May 16, 2013 (KAMPALA) - South Sudanese from Unity state residing in East Africa have welcomed the decision Lt Gen Bapiny Monytuel Wijang’s South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rebel group to accept an amnesty offered by president Salva Kiir.
- Dak Buoth, spokesperson of the Unity state students union in Kenya (Source: Unity state student union in Kenya)
Union’s representing students attending universities Kenya and Uganda hailed the decision as "bold and historic".
Dak Buoth, spokesperson of the Unity state students union in Kenya said students from across the state were joining South Sudanese government in welcoming the 3,000 strong rebel group, which crossed back in the oil-rich region from neighbouring Sudan earlier this month.
Khartoum denies backing South Sudanese rebels, while Juba also denies aiding rebels north of the border in Sudanese territory.
Other rebel groups have not accepted the amnesty, most notably David Yauyau’s rebellion in Jonglei state, which has sighted the fate of other rebel leaders who accepted a previous amnesty among their reason to decline the latest offer.
“It’s important for both Unity state and national government to abide by their words and not to repeat previous mistake of murdering of renegade Gatluak Gai who died mysteriously after negotiating with government for amnesty offer”, Buoth said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
Gatluak Gai rebelled against government after the 2010 elections, which saw incumbent governor Taban Deng Gai beat independent candidate, Angelina Jany Teny, the wife of South Sudan vice president Riek Machar.
Having campaigned for Teny, who stood as an independent as she failed to gain the nomination of South Sudan’s ruling party, Gai was hoping to be appointed as a county commissioner in the event that she won.
Over a year later, on July 23, 2011, he was shot while his forces were being integrated back into South Sudan’s army - the SPLA.
Joseph Makuey, the chairperson of the Unity state students union in Kampala told Sudan Tribune on Thursday the rebels acceptance of the amnesty will improve security in South Sudan particularly in Unity state, which has suffered from rebellions since South Sudan’s independence nearly two years ago.
The Unity state students urged the government to address a number of grievances that led to SSLA’s rebellion to prevent future unrest, such as corruption, nepotism, tribalism, bad governance, discrimination and arbitrary detention among others.
The student unions urged the other groups who are still fighting in the bush to accept the amnesty and follow in the SSLA’s footsteps and embrace peaceful ways of resolving South Sudan’s problems rather than resorting to violence.